Brother is available at:
FROM a review of a London-based Hip-Hop artist; before a…
look at an experienced female Soul/R&B artist from Mali – we have a nice, meaty Metal band to offer a sonic sorbet. Between the lemon-zest of the former and strawberry/chocolate-sweet of the latter: here, one gets a pint of vodka and an eye-watering chilli to give the taste buds a good kick in the pants. I will mention my featured artist soon but wanted to look at Scottish music and it being put on the map; bands from areas you would not expect. After that, a little bit about Metal and its variations; festivals like Hellfest and my thoughts on music this year – I also want to have a sneaky glimpse at some of the issues in modern music/consumer tastes. Starting up with Scotland; it is delightful being back in the country. I will, as has become custom, to look at BBC Radio 6 Music as the definition of good tastes and discerning listeners. I mention the station because their annual festival is being held in Glasgow this year. Not only is it a sensible and savvy booking but one that throws light on a city that often gets overlooked by the music media. When we think of ‘British music’ most people will, rather predictably, stick to England. It is understandable to a degree: the majority of the world’s greatest-ever music stems from this country. You cannot overlook the bands and artists who have emerged from Northern Ireland, Wales, and, in particular, Scotland. It is a nation that has produced absolute legends and continues to generate some stunning acts. I guess, like we assess England, there are always going to be the obvious places for Scotland: Glasgow and Edinburgh, specifically. I say ‘obvious’ as it seems a lot of people do not realise the talent in those areas. The fact ‘6 Music are hosting their festival there is, in part, to recognise the amazing music and culture in the city. Belle and Sebastian, Simple Minds and Primal Scream hail from Glasgow so, for that reason, we should have a lot of respect for the place.
I have talked about discrimination and inequality when it comes to gender and race in modern music: perhaps geography should be given equal seating. It seems London is still the king concerning media attention and focus. Scotland is a country overflowing with fantastic talent – ignore it at your peril. I am not sure whether festivals like ‘6 Music’s will change perceptions completely but is a positive step. I have a lot of love for Scottish music and feel its location – a bit far away from England – should not be at the detriment of its musicians. I understand reviewers and press focusing on English music but it sort of highlights the problem in the U.K.: Scotland being ignored and having to take matters into its own hands. Of course, Scottish artists are not as strident and aggrieved as Nicola Sturgeon but there seem to be some parallels. I know, for a fact, there are a tonne of brilliant new Scottish bands coming through right now. They are not just confined to obvious parts of the country. If you look hard enough, you can open a treasure chest of stunning Scottish music. I am glad we have a reputable festival coming to Glasgow in the coming days. We will see a plethora of legendary acts – including The Jesus and Mary Chain – come to the city and perform for the people. It will give Glasgow a chance to have their say and get the attention they rightfully warrant. Once the people are there; surely local acts will get a chance to be heard and the city’s music will be exposed to a lot of new faces. Once the stage is packed away, one imagines many will learn more about Glasgow and its artists. I hope, once that happens, attitudes will change and will get ourselves out of this ‘hole’. There is no difference putting female artists in the background and creating fewer chances for black artists – overlooking Scotland is discrimination and something that should be eradicated. Sure, Wales and Northern Ireland suffer a similar problem and that should change too.
Ray Brower are a poetic, Metal band (more on that very soon) that are gaining a reputation across Scotland but hail from Aberdeen. If Glasgow and Edinburgh are the focal points of Scottish music, it seems anywhere else is less important and prominent. To be fair, the smaller towns and cities will never have the same quality as those legendary locations – the slighter population and more homogenised cultural scenes will, naturally, reduce musician numbers. I feel it is foolhardy ignoring these areas and assuming there will be no quality and wonder there. Annie Lennox is one of Aberdeen’s most-famous performers. You do not need me to tell you what a legacy she has created and where she sits in the musical history books. She continues to exert influence and inspire a new generation of singers. Aside from her, the most noticeable artist from Aberdeen would be The Shamen. The Eberneezer Goode-creating Acid-House band made a name for themselves in the 1990s. They created a couple of pretty good albums but it is that one song they will always be known for. I guess the list of musicians from the city is not huge but wonders how much of that (lack of exposure) is down to a lazy press culture. A lot of the Scottish legends hail from Glasgow and Edinburgh. There are fewer long-lasting and classic acts elsewhere but plenty of new artists that derivate beyond obvious walls. Ray Brower have that foreman-surname formality that would suggest something quite polite and conservative. Their music has a sophisticated edge but has the spirit of a rabid bulldog. Its gesticulations and declarations are among the most potent and focused you will hear in the Metal scene. Before I come into that; a little more on Aberdeen and the more ‘remote’ Scottish areas. I get a bit bridled when the media ignores Scotland but it is almost entirely down to the local outlets to provide attention to areas like Aberdeen.
Not that the city is remote or obscure but not as set-up and hospitable to new musicians as places like Glasgow. In a short space, you have three pretty good mid-sized music venues: The Tunnels, Krakatoa and The Lemon Tree. The second name is perhaps best-suited for a band like Ray Brower. These spaces have great local acclaim but are, perhaps, not that renowned outside Aberdeen. It is a hard conundrum to untangle: its bra hook is firmly clasped and unwilling to pop off eloquently. In essence, there should be a nice and smooth way to get places like Aberdeen right in the forefront but is more deceptive than the eye would suggest. I guess local media helps boost local artists’ music but that can be rather limiting. How do you get the musicians beyond the readership and ensure they appeal to a wider audience? Social media is a big tool but only effective if people are willing to be proactive – that can often be a big ask! I am keen to see the ‘lesser areas’ of the U.K. given attention as there are some wonderful artists out there. Ray Brower are starting to get nationwide attention but have grown from local roots. They started in an area of Scotland that is not often associated with Metal/Hardcore and struggles to get appreciation from the U.K. as a whole. Away from the big cities, it is a mammoth task getting your music out to the masses. The way Ray Brower have done this is with an interesting blend of Hardcore thrust and something a little more cerebral. It may seem odd to pair the – as many people see it – black-demon snarl of Hardcore with something positively florid and intellectual. I am not going as far to suggest the guys are Lord Byron with an axe in their hand – an image if ever there was one! – but they subvert expectations we have about Hardcore/Metal bands. The genres still are privy to misconceptions and a lot of ignorance.
The fact I have not featured a lot of Metal/Hardcore bands recently is because my reviews tend to look at the lyrics and delve into a song – many Metal tracks lack that necessary decipherability and clarity. Given the bellicose, accelerated vocals, it can be hard picking out words and understanding a song. That is often the case with Thrash and Death-Metal. I have a lot of time for those sub-genres but do pace myself. It can be, at my age, quite exhausting and galling being subjected to a full-on, face-melting moshpit-banger. I prefer Metal with a bit more nuance and subtlety. True, with Ray Brower, one gets enough energy and power – that is infused with thought-provoking lyrics and something more relevant. I tend to find, with most genres, subject matter focuses on personal areas and often struggles to provide anything surprising. Ray Brower load their songbooks with a nice balance of themes and sounds. What one hears with Brother is a true and faithful Hardcore song but a lot more going on than you might realise. That brings me to Metal and its sub-genres; how people perceive it and why perceptions should change. When I review a Folk or Pop song, I often start with the same message: do not assume the mainstream is indicative of what is out there, in the underground. Folk gets that cliché viewpoint: rather energy-less and ruminative; Pop as sugary and overly-processed. The worst of the charts create this negative assumption and prevents a lot of people investigating deeper. The same is true of Metal, which suffers a bit. I am not the biggest fan and often find myself having to take a step back and calming down a bit. It is an ‘excitable’ genre which means long-term listening and appreciation is usually reserved for those who love the genre. That said, I find plenty to recommend and a lot of validity. I have mentioned how there are lots of musical sub-genres: that is true of Metal which can range from out-and-out Metal to Thrash and Hardcore. Ray Brower straddle Hardcore and Metal but inject lyrics which are not your typical fare.
I chose to feature Brother because it represents all their qualities and aspects into a single song. I think it is important to mention the complexity of Metal and why we need to appreciate it more. My thesis comes off the back of a recent report: one that looks at the way the charts are composed and represented. The current algorithm included downloads and purchases: it means Ed Sheeran, God help us, has seen his current music dominate the top ten. It is not indicative of quality and credibility; it is a reaction to the hype his new album, %/Divide, and the press attention it has accrued. It is definitely not indicative of the population’s tastes and is, at the very best, completely pointless. I have been aghast at the dominance of acts like Sheeran and what it represents. I shall not labour the point more – as I have already written bout in a feature – but find it obfuscating when overwhelmed by a rather processed and soulless type of music. It means the mainstream is often dominated by music that relies on calculation and formula – less attention paid to actual feel and depth. In a wider sense, it will resonate with the underground musicians. They will look up and see what is favoured and assume this vogue is to be followed. Imagine a band like Ray Brower being more Sheeran-esque? I shall not haul the man into the town square and pelt him with rancid tomatoes. He is someone, on a personal plain, I have time for and cannot hate. He has an affable personality and is reacting to tastes of the mainstream. What bothers me is how various music is aimed at a certain demographic – giving people what (record labels) THINK they should like. If we keep producing music aimed at teenagers and a limited sector (young women) they will only know one type of music. Attention spans and music tastes will not go beyond the last couple of years and it will create a depressing and narrow market. I fear a lot of overhaul needs to happen and big changes made. Not only do aspects like sexism and racism need addressing: the charts and artists that dominate them need investigation. Essentially, make music a more varied and quality-based platform.
Perhaps changes will come soon but I hope lessons are being learned. Taking it back to Ray Brower; they are one of many bands seeing what is happening and yearning for those big opportunities. They are part of a new breed of Metal acts that are a lot more complex and interesting than one might think. Metal is as varied and interesting than any other form of music around. I hope it no longer has to languish in the doldrums of niche and underground. If we welcome acts like Ray Brower into the fold more openly – that will give music a lot more spice and flavour. That word, ‘spice’, is very apt when talking about the Scottish band. You certainly get a pant-filing blast of heat and invigoration from them. I know they are busy this year and hope they, like many acts out there, have a look at their social media spread. It is something I keep returning to but with good reason. The boys are spread across Twitter and Facebook but have an opportunity to get themselves out there more fervently. I know photo-shoots are a pricey luxury but can make a big difference. In terms of reviews like this, they add a certain class and refinement. Being visible, and getting a pictorial representation of an artist can be as important as the music itself. I would like to think, somewhere down the line, the guys will splash some cash on a couple of shoots. Making yourself visible is a vital consideration in music. Ray Brower are set up on social media but it would be good to see their YouTube and SoundCloud accounts a little fuller and updated. It is a small qualm but something they might want to consider. Anyway, the guys are doing sterling work and ensuring they get themselves out to the people. Backed by great songs and a tight connection; their future looks set to continue with success and opportunity.
In terms of exposure and gigs this year, Hellfest is right at the top of the agenda. As the name implies, it is not a festival of flower-pressing and apple-bobbing. It is a gathering of the Metal favour who prefer their music turned up to eleven. In fact, break the dial off and play it as loud as you damned well can. I must confess, I am not exactly an archivist when it comes to Hellfest – not steeped in its backstory and traditions. What I do know is Ray Brower have a rare chance to take to the prestigious stage. They won the Deezer Open Hell Stage 2016 and will play at the main stage. That is not exactly to be sniffed at. It is like, in Metal terms, hitting the main stage at Glastonbury. For a young and relatively new band, it is huge validation. They, in March last year, entered a competition for a chance to play that main stage. Metal fans voted for nine acts – who would play at the main stage. Whereas festivals like Glastonbury feature more Pop and Rock; Hellfest concentrates on Metal and the harder end of the scale. With summer just around the corner (sort of!), it is a good time to look at the various events taking place and where you should be headed. Hellfest is a must-visit for Metal fans and a good chance to see those bands who will define the genre in years to come. Ray Brower will line-up against some established talent and get a chance to bring new material to the eager masses. I am not sure quite what the atmosphere is like but can picture a blend of debacle/chaos and some good-hearted revelry. Hellfest will not just feature bands like Ray Brower: there will be a real spread of artists that should lure in a large crowd. I hope the guys are excited because they have a great chance to impress critics and media that will be there. Not that they need that sort of approval and backing: their current music suggests they are more than up to the task of thrilling the majority.
I have looked at Ed Sheeran as the embodiment of the modern Pop market. You cannot criticise people for the music they like. It (music) is a subjective market and one that welcomes everyone in. There is a broad palette available and it is easier to get hold of music now than it has ever been. We are in a time when there more music-sharing sites and radio stations available. I am looking around and finding there are definite shifts and changes occurring at the moment. I have already looked at Sheeran and what is happening in Pop. There has been much talk about Urban music and whether it is getting more attention. What I am keen to see is how lesser genres assimilate into the mainstream in years to come. It is hard seeing how the charts and mainstream are set up at the moment. There is such a narrowness that it is galling and daunting for new artists. If you do not fit in with a particular sound and dynamic then how are you ever likely to succeed? I am not suggesting every genre is given equal footing and we overhaul the whole thing. What I mean is there should be greater transparency and quality. Metal is a genre that will always have its loyal fans but has never really integrated into the mainstream. Like the Goth kid at school who is moody and keeps to themselves: Metal and Hardcore prefer their own crowd and do things their own way. You cannot approach genres like that and assume you have it all figured out. I know there are many Metal bands that are all about noise and provide little appeal and endurance. I am, as stated, not a huge Metal fan but love the classics. From Motörhead and Deep Purple through Judas Priest and Metallica – there are some stealthy icons to get your teeth into. I am probably the biggest fan of Metallica and love their meaty riffs and epic anthems. They are a band still producing music and one of those acts you need to see live. In terms of the new generation coming through; I have been keeping my ear to the ground and hearing what is happening.
As you’d expect, countries like Sweden and Norway continue to provide some of the best Black Metal and Thrash: nations renowned for that heavy and head-banging sound. I am not sure what it is about Scandinavian nations and that part of the world: they just have a knack for great Metal. The U.K. is proving it is no slouch, either. Wales is a nation that has the odd great Metal band but I find Scotland and England are leading that charge. Maybe there are prominent areas of activity but like most genres, the music is not localised to the big cities. If anything, Metal breeds more productively in less-obvious cities and towns. In order for Metal to progress and grow; we need to stop distilling it to a single image. Most of us think of a lone figure – daubed in clothes of black – and a Grim Reaper-like apparel. The sounds, usually hectic and unmelodic, are backed by some ‘well’-placed studs, tattoos and black boots. Yes, that is the look many Metal fans favour but is not representative of the scene. There is so much more to discover – not all of it is shouty and violent. In fact, part of Ray Brower’s charm and success is the way they splice the, at times, antagonistic qualities of Metal with something nourishing and intelligent. One would not normally associate the cerebral with Metal/Hardcore, but that is what you get. Brother proves the Aberdeen clan have enough intellect and poetry to keep everyone happy. In the same way mainstream music is at its best when offering diversity and something real – Metal shakes the shackles of stigma when it provides something concise, nuanced and thoughtful. I am not suggesting all Metal needs to become highbrow but that rather basic shout-and-slam approach to vocals and riff is cropping up in too many new bands. Ray Brower are the antithesis who keep Hardcore pure and faithful but show themselves to be a pleasant surprise.
The boys are focusing on releasing new material this year and readying themselves for that all-important gig at Hellfest. I know, before that illustrious performance, they will be taking in a few other places. They head to Madhatters in Inverness (April 21st) before taking in Lemon Tree in Aberdeen (6th May). It is not only good pre-festival warm-up but a way of showcasing songs like Brother. The reason I wanted to look at this one song because it, I feel, best displays all their kinetic energies and creative talents. It is a focused and expansive song, all at once. That comes to light pretty quickly when you hear the introduction. It is an atmosphere and nervy beginning that pairs guitar feedback with some very light percussion. Strings are kept subtle as the emphasis is on build-up and intrigue. You are curious where the song is based and the inspiration behind it. With a title like Brother, many might think of familial ties or unity. Images go racing around the head in the initial seconds as you await something heavier and less forgiving. That explosion and riot come before too long. The vocal has that typical Hardcore sound: it is guttural and intense but, unlike many, you can decipher the vocal. It has that flair of Slipknot and some of the bands on the fearsome side of the spectrum – plenty of authority and rage but balanced with thoughtful and emotive lyrics. The Ray Brower boys consist Ray Lawrence on vocals; Gordon Wilson on drums; J. Park takes up the bass whilst James Dron is left to shredding duties. The guys are muscle-in together from the off and create a spirited and vibrant lunge that gets into the head. Paraphrasing and reinterpreting The Hollies’ classic, He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother; you get a modern-day representation of togetherness and brotherhood. I was not sure, at that early stage, whether the hero was referring to a family separation or a friend. Whoever the subject is, they have been taken away (from the hero) and causing that anxiety. You start to ponder the possibilities as the band lace in thunder and avalanche around. It is a typically concentrated and intense workout that gets every muscle motivated. The riffs have that beefy, head-rocking power but the composition is never too overwhelming in the early stages.
Our hero talks of the meek and separation; there is a sense of listening to people he shouldn’t have. You never get a sense this is an all-out attack at a villain or accused. It is more a look around and the sort of people who have led him astray – maybe caused this split and anger he feels. What you do get from the vocals is a switch between that enraptured growl and accented, calmer sounds. That local accent comes through and is a pleasing juxtaposition between the violent and fiery core and the verses. Likewise, the guitars, bass and drums have that balance. When needing to be tight and charging; everyone is in unity and throws it all into the mix. When more reflective and pacing; you have a performance that showcases the musicianship of the band. Few Hardcore bands are effortlessly able to switch between that traditional sound – more direct and angered – and a softer, more considered approach. Some of the lyrics do get lost is the energy of the performance but, depending on your viewpoint, you will have a couple of different interpretations. “Who are you decide?” our hero says to someone who can’t seem to get anything right. It brings me to a particular target at this point: someone who is making decisions and having influence but is a screw-up. Again, I am not sure whether it is a family connection or associate. You get drawn into the story and the possibilities behind the lyrics. It is hard to say whether things are better now or whether that division still exists. Maybe the song looks at the music industry and someone making unwise decisions on their behalf? Brother could be that once-good bond going sour – someone jeopardising Ray Brower’s future and taking them for granted. Maybe it is more to do with different agendas and things going bad. Whatever the interpterion, I was drawn by the composition which reminded me a bit of Metallica’s self-titled classic – riffs not out-of-place in Holier Than Thou or The God That Failed.
It brings in 1990s Metal with some modern Hardcore. That blend is quite intoxicating as you get more into the song. I can see this going down a storm on the stage as you have that contrast of moshpit-ready chorus and moodier verses. The lead performance is always compelling. Lawrence has a bit of James Hetfield (Metallica) in the vocal but lends from other Metal bands. That said, he stands aside because of his delivery and accent. I have heard few Scottish Hardcore bands: few that would not try to Americanise their delivery and mimic others. By keeping his voice natural and pure, you get a real unique sound coming out. Back to the song, and the spike and energy do not abate as it goes past the half-way marker. Just by the three-minute marker – and after another injection of that chorus – the hero looks at the antagonist. They should not point figures without washing their hands: watching who they accuse and what they say. Again, it is compelling digging down and asking the truth behind the lyrics. There is enough detachment and obliqueness you never really find out the exact cause of the rift. It is not that important as part of the beauty is piecing things together. When the three-minute marker does come in, the boys return to the slowness and build of the introduction. The composition gets lighter and takes a breath. Like a beast having fed from the bones of a vanquished foe: it is time to regroup, reload and reconsider. In the reflectiveness and calm of the debris; one imagines a new storm will come back to town – bigger intensity and purpose than before. When our hero comes back to the microphone; he is building a barrier. If his target wants to get through him, he will be met with resistance and defence. Once more, one wonders whether this protective nature is aimed at a treasured friend or relation. There is clearly bad blood that threatens to boil and explode.
The final stage provides the most curiosity and another unexpected turn. Few Metal and Hardcore bands change dynamic and genres within a song to keep it fresh and unexpected. Ray Brower’s boys turn the song funky and give spotlight to J. Park’s elastic bass. It trips and creeps like a shadow in the night. Perhaps befitting of the anxiety and tension that has built: here, we get our hero’s footsteps and malevolence represented through the bass. Gordon Wilson’s percussion adds a nice kick and sense of drive whilst the guitar from James Dron is tempered but has that potential lingering beneath the surface. That debate about self-control and trust comes back up. Our hero is assessing the situation and still carries that burden and anger. Something has gone down that cannot be unseen. Maybe, thinking about it, it is a look at the wider world. The way corruption and unwise politics have reshaped the world as we know it. It would not be a stretch to apply Brother’s messages to the situations occurring in the U.K. and U.S. How motivated Ray Brower are by politics I am not sure but that is one possible interpretation. The final moments tighten the riffs and provide yet another fascinating aural snippet. The song ends after an exhausting and wracked performance (from all) but seems like it could go on for longer. That is a hard trick to pull off in music: creating a long song but leaving the listener wanting more. Brother is a fantastic cut from Ray Brower that shows why they have been picked to headline Hellfest.
I am not sure how the remainder of this year is looking for the band. I guess Hellfest is top of their plans and a lot of preparation for that. In terms of physicality and nerves: there will be a lot of attention put their way; the guys will be steadying themselves and readying for the fight. It will be a great occasion for them and a useful opportunity to get their songs to a new crowd. I chose to review Brother as it connected with my instantly and subverted expectations I had about Hardcore. I have not heard any whispers about E.P.s and albums but one suspects the guys will be planning something. I would love to see a Ray Brower album materialise in the coming months. If anything, they have the momentum and backing of some big names. Not only did they rightfully earn a spot at Hellfest’s main stage but have seen radio stations and new fans flock their way. Of course, it is the start of things and a very positive one at that. I’ll come back to my original points but wanted to see how the band might progress and what their next move is. I am not sure if there are any more festival appearances or the guys are playing locally. I have not got my head fully into Metal so not aware how the calendar looks – where the big festivals are around the world. Whether a group like Ray Brower can ever get an international booking or play abroad has yet to be seen. Certainly, a nod like Hellfest will do them no harm. That will be their main target this year: playing a great set and making the most of that platform. After that, they will be planning and conspiring; what is coming next and how they can keep the ball rolling. It is a good time for them and one that should bring more fans in. As I mentioned; getting the social media pages sorted and bulked will help. Their fans numbers are quite impressive but should grow. With more events and recognition, the guys will find themselves getting more gig demands. I can see them playing across the globe – Europe seems like a natural place for them to tour and conquer.
I’ll end things by (briefly) looking back on the subjects that opened this review. I know there are a lot of great bands playing around the world but find certain cities and nations are overlooked. Scotland might be right up there: hiding itself up north and not really getting in anyone’s way. It seems egregious British media spends so little time promoting the music here. Few column inches are reserved to Scottish music and the best acts coming out of the country. They may want to stay in Europe – as do all sensible people – and looking for independence but that should not come at the detriment of the musicians. The same can be said of Wales and Northern Ireland: how often do you see features/reviews of artists from there? Maybe the mainstream fares a little better – not much better, mind – but new acts?! I am surprised something has not been done and sites/magazines are not dedicating space to celebrating Scottish music. BBC Radio 6 Music is bringing its tent to Glasgow and a good chance for the locals to see some great acts. In another sense, those fans that come to Glasgow can experience the best Glasgow artists around. We need to appreciate the full spectrum of British music and not restrict ourselves to England. Whilst the majority of the population and musicians play here; that is not to say there are few acts worth investigating in Scotland. Glasgow and Edinburgh have, between them, given the music world some fantastic artists. Not only have those cities given so many legendary acts: so many modern heroes are progressing from the cities. What I find, as opposed to other areas, is the fact they are remaining in Scotland. Many English artists find themselves moving to cities like London – it is a natural home for those who live outside the capital. In terms of Scotland, there is less temptation to emigrate and come down to London. Things are different there and I think a greater sense of national pride, community and belonging. Maybe there are more opportunities but it is not helped by the media in England.
Look outside places like Glasgow and you will find bands like Ray Brower. You cannot assume other cities and towns are barren and underpopulated. There is so much greater music being made all around Scotland. If the trends of mainstream modern music are teaching us anything it is that we should change practices. Aside from gender and race imbalance, there is that geographical bias happening. If we keep looking at places like London for inspiration we are closing our minds to the remainder of the U.K. – perhaps fitting of a nation keen to remove itself from Europe at all costs. Whilst I might not review a lot of Metal acts this year; having Ray Brower around has provided inspiration and clarity. I, like many, saw the genre as a bit limited and samey. I love the legends of Metal but have not really given the new crop proper affection. Maybe there is still that negative and cliché image of Metal: it is going to appeal to those who like to mosh and prefer their music angry and accelerated. Ray Brower conform to that to an extent but make me rethink perceptions and the reality of the scene. Their Hardcore basis is infused with some fascinating lyrics that get the mind working. Brother is a good example of what they are all about and where they are heading. I feel Metal/Hardcore deserves a place in the mainstream – a lot more than it is assimilated right now. Aside from mainstream acts like Band of Horses and Enter Shakari – maybe not fully Metal but playing in that realm – you sort of happen-upon great new bands by chance. D.J.s like Daniel P. Carter have their own show – dedicated to Metal and Hardcore – but, again, it is rather under-the-radar and niche. A lot of people are scared of Metal and what it will do to them. It is almost like a scary-looking (but harmless) dog. You assume it is going to react a certain way but never dare get near. Metal is a lot richer and accessible than it is perceived. Ray Brower effortless manage to combine a good dose of sound and force but are rather genial and pleasant chaps (like many of their peers). They are a good gateway drug into the genres. I suggest you have a listen to Brother – check them out on SoundCloud too – and hear what they are all about.
I’ll wrap this up by talking about the modern charts/scene and what we need to do – you love a bit of hectoring! I will not bring up Ed Sheeran again but still feel cold and unsettled by the way the so-called mainstream is developing. Getting to the charts and the masses should be an honour and signifier of absolute quality and achievement. Because of that, one would hope the mainstream is filled with originality, personality and surprise. Depressingly, there seems to a real division and chasm of quality. I mentioned, I think, Laura Marling earlier as someone who represents talent and potential. She is a songwriter who does not need a committee to get her music heard. She takes care of her own songs and is a proper artist. Whilst albums like Semper Femina, her current, were not given a big parade of P.R. focus – it has received rave reviews and seen as one of her best. That kind of music is always going to struggle to connect with the masses. It is the faceless genital-lite radio crap that seems to get the big figures – the multi-million YouTube views and streaming records. If the masses want to embrace rubbish that is up to them but are they being given a proper education? There seems to be a practice of assuming what people want to hear and shoving it down their throats. Maybe a certain Pop sound – commercial and bland – hooks in those who do not need to over-think in life – they are forgetting what good, proper music sounds like. That is not to suggest the charts needs to transpose and promulgate those real and genuine acts I have spoken about. With more thought and some common sense, there will be greater balance and a much more appealing mainstream. At the moment, acts that deserve to be there (like Ray Brower) have to work much harder to make it. They are doing the touring scene and getting their name heard locally. How long will it take for them to reach the big stations in Britain? Will they ever be able to reach the heights of the mainstream? I hope so but one wonders whether it will take months or years. Their music is strong enough and warrants a lot more celebration. Brother, another song in their arsenal, will go a long way and change perceptions of Metal in the process. They have Hellfest to focus on and, once the dust is clear, will continue to perform and prove they are one of the…
MOST exciting new bands of the moment.
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